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July 2023

Celebrating the Dominican Library's Impressive Achievements!

Dear friends of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library,

We are pleased to share a message sent to the CUNY DSI mailing list highlighting the latest accomplishments and exciting ventures of the Dominican Library. We appreciate CUNY DSI Director Dr. Ramona Hernández for her constant support with the work we do in the Library and sharing that information with our supporters.

Please continue to read the email newsletter in its entirety below (with some updates):

As you know, the Library is a unique repository for primary and secondary sources about the Dominican Republic and people of Dominican descent in the United States. (Please visit our website to find more information about our collections and opening hours.)

In the early 1990’s, however, the Library was little more than a dream. Through the unwavering belief and advocacy of Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte, along with the support of other academics and community members, this project was brought to fruition. It is a manifestation of the conviction that those of us based in the U.S. and who share a vested interest in Dominican history and the experiences of the Dominican people more broadly need a reliable and knowledgeable space to consult bibliographical materials. The ever-increasing number of visitors received by the Library each year confirms that this belief continues to resonate with the public and especially with new generations.

In the past two years, Chief Librarian Aponte has begun to bear some of the fruits of the idea she planted over two decades ago. Here, I take the opportunity to congratulate our Chief Librarian for having been invited to give the keynote speech at the Commencement Ceremony for this year’s graduates of Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, on May 31 and June 1, 2023. This is a great honor that underlines Prof. Aponte’s many achievements over the years, including becoming the first Chief Librarian of Dominican ancestry dedicated to Dominican studies in the United States. It also no doubt represents a full-circle moment as she is a proud alumna of Hostos.

My project-1 (1)
Sarah Aponte's Hostos Graduation Photo (Left). Sarah Aponte addresses the audience as Class Salutatorian in 1992. Photo Credit: Eduardo Hoepelman


Congratulations are also in order to Prof. Aponte for her achievement of another feat with little precedent in the U.S. In August 2022, Prof. Aponte was promoted to Full Professor at the City College of New York, a significant achievement since Latina women represent only 3% of all people who hold this rank nationwide.

In addition to a stellarly regarded Chief Librarian and Professor, Prof. Aponte is a highly respected scholar. Her latest book, La presencia dominicana en el periódico Las Novedades, 1876- 1918: De breve mención a propietarios en la ciudad de Nueva York was published in 2022 by the Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña and CUNY DSI’s book series, Historia.


La presencia dominicana en el periódico Las Novedades, 1876-1918: De breve mención a propietarios en la ciudad de Nueva York was the recipient of the 2023 very prestigious librarian award José Toribio Medina, granted annually by the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM)

Among her many activities, Prof. Aponte has also made several public presentations showcasing the work of the Dominican Library and its collections. Some, to name a few, include a presentation at Rutgers University (in March 2022) and, in collaboration with Librarian Jhensen Ortiz, at the Center for Research in the Humanities of the New York Public Library (in February 2023) and at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, M.D. (in October 2022). And, Prof. Aponte, alongside Ortiz, were also featured speakers during our symposium “A Transnational Future? A Digital Humanities Conversation in Dominican and Caribbean Studies”, which took place on May 2. (If you missed it, you can watch the recording of the event on our YouTube channel.)


With so much on her plate, it is well deserved that Prof. Aponte received the Jay Bernstein Memorial Scholarship, announced during the LACUNY Institute just a few days ago (where she also gave a keynote speech), as well as the 2023 Hostos Community College Presidential Medal of Honor for Outstanding Alumna.

In the meantime, Librarian Jhensen Ortiz was also honored this Spring. During the recent 2023 President Faculty and Staff Appreciation and Service Award Ceremony, he was honored for ten years of continued service at the City College of New York, at the CUNY DSI Library.

In addition, librarian Ortiz is the recipient of the prestigious Rare Book School-Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage fellowship for the 2021-2023 period.


Finally, I also want to congratulate Sarah and Jhensen for their success in securing support for a new project. Thanks to their work, the CUNY DSI was recently awarded a $10,000 METRO Digitizing Project Grant by the Metropolitan New York Library Council. Through this grant, our team of librarians will be able to digitize and preserve for generations to come all the lectures recorded at CUNY DSI from 1992-2001, and currently only available on videotape.

Much work has been done, and many more exciting projects undertaken by this dynamic team are on the horizon. Stay tuned!